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Afghanistan creates tricky new reality for Central Asia


The five post-Soviet Central Asia states find themselves in a newly difficult position as they navigate the return of the Taliban.

Unlike the West, the Central Asian states have been preparing for the return of the Taliban to neighbouring Afghanistan for several years, building up their diplomatic relationships and enhancing domestic security, but the takeover leaves them facing enormous challenges.

The uncertainty of the situation in Afghanistan and whether the Taliban can keep its security guarantees to Moscow of preventing the export of extremism is a worry, but Russia is also using the momentum and the ignominy of the US withdrawal to deepen its security involvement in the region, whether the region wants it or not.

Central Asia governments have to tread carefully with their actions and messaging towards both actors as despite Russia – and even the US – exaggerating the security risks over the last 20 years, the risks for Central Asia are certainly real.

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